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“Their data is like looking at your deposits in your bank accounts without looking at the withdrawals,” she said. “People on the Hill who are undecided on the trade agreements, or are skeptical, just laugh when the chamber puts out a new iteration of that data. Gross exports are not relevant.”
The chamber’s data provide “cover” to Members of Congress who already want to support the pacts, according to Wallach.
No matter how far apart they are on the pacts, both sides agree that jobs will be a dominant theme in next year’s elections.
“For the Democrats who have working people as their base and the tea party Republicans, if in fact the chamber convinces them and they use the chamber’s cooked-up numbers to vote for an agreement, the real question is what’s going to happen to them in 2012,” Wallach said.
In particular, the freshmen who campaigned against North American Free Trade Agreement-style pacts, may have an electoral challenge ahead, she said. “Now they’ve come to Washington and the usual corporate lobby has sidled up to them. ... It’s going to be a big X factor for the 2012 elections, when they have to go home and admit they’ve just voted for Wall Street over Main Street.”
But Donohue said he has a message for the Members who may be poised to take a risky trade vote: “We are going to be there with you.”
In the past, the chamber has spent big money on campaign ads, in part to thank Members for their votes on other top business priorities.